Jeremiah Wright is still damn right

( This is a follow-up to this post, inspired by this comment.)

[UPDATE: If you haven’t seen Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s comments in their original context, follow this link.]

Each church has a unique context, with members who have particular needs and points of view. Trinity UCC has, since its inception, been one of the most honest churches I can think of in living the gospel and meeting the needs of the greater community on the south side of Chicago (read: low-income black folks, a community that has historically borne the brunt of America’s oppression). Depending on the circumstances that have brought folks to their point of need, “God damn America” can represent a liberating theological notion for those who have been harmed by America – or by the conflation of God/America like we’ve seen following September 11.

The powerful subtext behind “God damn America” is first and foremost that God is NOT America, and does not necessarily bless us just for being Americans. Depending on where you’ve come from, these can be liberating words that can lead people from despair, to God. As a pastor, Rev. Wright’s job at the pulpit isn’t to be politically correct, or to be safe, or comforting, or to not make waves or step on toes, but it is to declare the salvation of God – as effectively as possible, – for the folks who need to hear it. And if you listen to the tiny decontextualized video snippets of any of these “controversial” sermons, you will hear that Rev. Wright’s words deeply resonated with those who were there to hear them.

All I’m saying is, we – and by “we” I’m talking to outraged middle class folks who are so offended by Rev. Wright’s comments that they’re considering not voting for Obama as a result – we must realize that our self righteousness is not necessarily universal. It may well be crazy and indefensible for the pastor of our churches to preach “God damn America,” but then again, context is everything, isn’t it? (Yes, it is.)

Many are now asking, what does this say about Obama, and the emphasis that he has put on our national unity?

To me, it says that he has spent 20 years working in a church that has been a vibrant, saving institution for many low-income black folks in Chicago.

It says that Obama views the gospel message as one that requires adherence to God AND neighbor, just as Jesus commands.

Finally, it says that Obama, who has been through his own share of difficult times, has also spent his life meeting people at their point of need, without losing his optimism for the future of America.

And that is a candidate – and a faith perspective – that I can get behind.


8 Responses to “Jeremiah Wright is still damn right”

  1. Mr. Roach Says:

    Look, tickets to Africa are cheap. If you hate it here and hate white people, why not move. Plenty of them choose to move here. And then you can live in a land unsullied, more or less, by white people.

  2. Tom Ryberg Says:

    Mr. Roach,

    Welcome to the site. That said, the ignorance emanating from your comment is of epic proportions.

    Next time, please avoid overt falsehoods and gross oversimplifications, and at least make an attempt to tangentially engage the perspective raised in the actual post.


  3. Mr. Roach Says:

    What’s false? That the tickets are expensive? The idea people who hate it here should move? That it’s unsullied by whites? Yes, I know, colonialism blah blah. Does that have a statute of limitations, or will that explain Africa’s problems 500 years from now?

  4. Tom Ryberg Says:

    Mr. Roach,

    I see no good reason to jump into battle with your straw man here. In my direct experience, Rev. Wright has no hatred for white people or America as a homeland. He does have plenty of invective for the systems of oppression in America that have privileged whites socially, politically and economically to the detriment of blacks over hundreds of years – but then, so do I.

    But if you can’t see or won’t admit the difference between hating systems of American oppression vs. hating people or America in general, then there’s really no need to continue this argument further.


  5. Cats r Flyfishn Says:

    I really appreciate what you wrote. As a woman, I know what it means to be disenfranchised. That said, the disenfranchisement experienced by women doesn’t come anywhere near that of a person of color, especially if that person of color is a black man. People don’t cross the street when I walk by and police don’t stop me because of the car I’m driving. Frankly, I tired of whining white folks and I’m lily white myself, complaining about black folks. They don’t have a clue. I’m from the 60’s and I have an understanding of what Rev. Wright is talking about. I can never claim that I know what it feels like to be disliked because of the color of my skin.

    It’s time for a change in this nation. It’s time we stop feeling afraid. I support Barack Obama and I’m volunteering for his campaign in PA. Our primary is in 4 weeks. Yes, we can.

  6. Is Pastor Wright the New Britney Spears? « Pennsylvania for Change Says:

    […] I have provided a link to another point of view. Read it. You may learn something. […]

  7. Cracker Says:

    Oprah Winfrey, Barack Obama and Rev. Jeremiah Wright are they the real Black Experience? Don Imus and Rev. Jeremiah Wright whose the racist now?

  8. Tom Ryberg Says:

    What’s up, Cracker (cute).

    Look, for reasons I have gone into at great length here and elsewhere, I emphatically disagree that Rev. Wright is a racist. Furthermore, I think name-calling to that degree is divisive and unnecessary on your part. Engage him on a point-by-point basis if you want, but calling him a racist is not, in my view, justified or acceptable.


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